Friday, January 16, 2009

"You Speak Chinese?"...


Some of the antiques from my great grandparents.

I used to live at an hdb flat in Dover, near Anglo Chinese School, Independent. I liked the market which was small and hence the vendors would know all their customers quite well. I only seemed to be taking my favourite wanton noodles at the same stall, and I would buy fruits also at the same stall. A person of habits.

One day, the fruit seller looked at me with big, wide eyes. "You speak Chinese?"

"Of course, I do! I am a Chinese, or to be more exact, a Peranakan Chinese.

"Oh, sorry, I thought you were a Malay and that is why I always speak to you in English," said the young man, who helped his mother during his free time.

"Don't worry.....have often been mistaken to be a Malay, Thai or Filipino", I smiled. I hardly speak Hokkien dialect because some Singaporeans find my Hokkien a little difficult to understand, as Penang Hokkien is uttered in a sing-song manner.

I am glad that my parents had taught us to speak our mother tongue and also glad that we had many Malay and Indian neighbours so that multi-lingualism is not a problem for me and my siblings.

Gan Chau

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